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Zinnia Gonzalez-Carranza

Lecturer and PI, Faculty of Science

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Biography

Lecturer in Plant Sciences

Zinnia's research fall into three areas: abscission & cell separation, plant development and mezquite uses and applications. Her current research areas include:

1) Study of flower abscission in Arabidopsis

2) the role of the F-box protein HAWAIIAN SKIRT (HWS) in plant development via the ubiquitination pathway.

3) microRNA biogenesis in plants

4) Investigating the role of the HWS orthologe genes in rice and corn.

5) Utilizing Mezquite, a native plant from Mexico to imporove quality of life of less advantaged groups in Mexico, and in other developing countries.

Keywords: Mezquite, Abscission, cell separation, F-box proteins, ubiquitination, microRNAs.

Expertise Summary

My most recent project is the Mezquite project. This project's long-term ambition is to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of less advantaged groups in both Durango, Mexico, and in other developing countries, by promoting economic development, and improving local research capability and innovation, through the sustainable, holistic production and use of the evergreen leguminous tree, mezquite (Prosopis sp).

A multidisciplinary, multisectorial and international group of more than 50 stakeholders is working together to identify solutions to problems exposed by rural and indigenous communities in Mexico in January 2019.The group include scientists from several disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, food science, nutrition, botany, engineering, plant sciences, business, among others. Members of the government, tourism, NGOs from Mexico, are all part of this group. Other countries involved in the project include Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Somaliland.

During previous postdoctoral roles, I was able to map successfully the HAWAIIAN SKIRT gene - the mutant does not shed its floral parts because the sepal bases remain fused during development. We are in the process of identifying the putative target(s) for degradation from this gene. I also exploited the use of a transgenic line that I had generated expressing the reporter GFP specifically in abscission zone cells. Using this ProPGAZAT:GFP line I was able to identify and collect abscission zone cells separating in vivo, and I developed a methodology to generate the first single cell cDNA, yeast one-hybrid and yeast two-hybrid libraries from this material. I have used the cDNA library to produce the first complete transcript profile from abscission zone cells and this has revealed expression of genes whose site of transcription was previously undocumented. Currently I am involved in the characterization of seven genes identified with this strategy.

My collaborations include Dr. Janny Peters in Nijmegen, (Netherlands); Prof. Mohammed Bendahmane from ENS in Lyon, France, Prof. Xuebin Zhangfrom Henan University, China, Dr. Rita Borna from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Mexico: Dr. Julio Rios form INIFAP, Mexico; Dr. Nuria Rocha Guzman, Dr. Ruben Laredo, Dr. Alberto Gallegos and Dr Rocio Moreno, ITD. Dr Marcos Garzon, Dr. Juan Manuel Vigueras, Dr. Socorro Gonzalez, Dr. Erika Cassio, MSc. Arturo Castro, Dr. Martha Rosales from CIIDR, Dr. Yolanda Lopez from CIAD, MSc. Xochitl Soto, ME Karina Fernandez and MSc. Martha Ruiz from USLRC, ME Olivia Bringas from Land and Tourism, Dr Everardo Garduno from UBC, Dr Araceli Rivera and Dr Juan Antonio Cerda from INAH. In Kenya: Dr Oscar Koech, in Tanzania: Dr Charles Kilawe, Prof George Kajembe and Dr. Antonio Allegretti.

I also performed promoter deletion analyses from abscission related gene and identified a putative abscission-related domain. My work also broadened the focus of the programme of research by introducing a bioinformatics approach to identify other polygalacturonase genes that might make an important contribution to cell separation.

I am working in the characterization of two ubiquitin-like genes from the Arabidopsis model species.

Teaching Summary

I convene and teach the core lectures, practical sessions (based in a crime scenario!) and some plant specialist option lectures in the module: Applied Genetics (D212P3). From the Autumn 2018 I will… read more

Research Summary

As part of our Mezquite project, we are launching the call SUSTAINABLE AND HOLISTIC USE OF THE MEZQUITE PRODUCTS MADE WITH MEZQUITE AND ITS DERIVATIVES to generate a compendium of mezquite uses;

The mission of the project for the sustainable and holistic use of mezquite is to improve the quality of life and well-being of rural and indigenous communities both in Mexico and in other developing countries where mezquite grows. Further, to promote economic development and improve research and innovation capacity. This project also seeks to recover, preserve, promote and validate knowledge about mezquite for the benefit of society.

The compendium will be hold in the Mezquite Project website for communities to access it. Hard copies will be printed to reach these that do not have access to internet. With the above, Mezquite project seeks to contribute to the sustainable development of families and communities in vulnerable situations that inhabit the various regions of the world where mezquite is produced, in addition to preserving and sustainably using the species.

The call is open from the 10th of April 2019 to the 31st of August 2019. Form more details please visit the following links:

English version: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/documents/personal/zinnia/English.pdf

Spanish version: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/documents/personal/zinnia/Spanish.pdf

For more information about Mezquite project visit our twitter and facebook accounts at: @GCRF_Mezquite and @MezquiteProject.

The characterization of some of the genes identified in my past research (we identidified around 200 genes of interest and up to date 7 genes studied from the library are abscission related) is on-going and forms an innovative part of the projects of PhD students and visitors who I am supervising. The research tools I have generated are not only in use within the Plant Sciences Division at Nottingham but are also currently being used in collaborations with other plant scientists around the world.

I have been generating crosses from the Hawaiian Skirt gene with other genes and we are currently investigating the role of this gene in the plant development and we are looking for the putative target(s) for this particular F-box protein.

I am also investigating the roles from two ubiquitin like genes in the model species Arabidopsis by generation of Knock out lines, overexpressors lines, doubles and triple knock outs and the interaction of these genes through the use of a Yeast two hybrid screening methodology.

Selected Publications

As part of our Mezquite project, we are launching the call SUSTAINABLE AND HOLISTIC USE OF THE MEZQUITE PRODUCTS MADE WITH MEZQUITE AND ITS DERIVATIVES to generate a compendium of mezquite uses;

The mission of the project for the sustainable and holistic use of mezquite is to improve the quality of life and well-being of rural and indigenous communities both in Mexico and in other developing countries where mezquite grows. Further, to promote economic development and improve research and innovation capacity. This project also seeks to recover, preserve, promote and validate knowledge about mezquite for the benefit of society.

The compendium will be hold in the Mezquite Project website for communities to access it. Hard copies will be printed to reach these that do not have access to internet. With the above, Mezquite project seeks to contribute to the sustainable development of families and communities in vulnerable situations that inhabit the various regions of the world where mezquite is produced, in addition to preserving and sustainably using the species.

The call is open from the 10th of April 2019 to the 31st of August 2019. Form more details please visit the following links:

English version: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/documents/personal/zinnia/English.pdf

Spanish version: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/documents/personal/zinnia/Spanish.pdf

For more information about Mezquite project visit our twitter and facebook accounts at: @GCRF_Mezquite and @MezquiteProject.

I convene and teach the core lectures, practical sessions (based in a crime scenario!) and some plant specialist option lectures in the module: Applied Genetics (D212P3). From the Autumn 2018 I will also convene and teach half of the module for Plants and the Light Environment (D235P6), in this module, the students have a terrific presentation where their crerativity is encouraged, we had rappers, scientists, a criminal jury.... In addition, I deliver the plant practical sessions for the Global Food Security Module (D211F3).

Past Research

During my PhD I isolated and characterised a Polygalacturonase expressed during leaf abscission in Brassica napus, and I identified the orthologue gene in Arabidopsis thaliana.

During the 3 years of my first postdoctoral post, I exploited the information generated from my PhD work and using a 'crop to model species' strategy allowed me to undertake promoter deletion analyses and identify a putative abscission-related domain. It also enabled me to develop the tools and methodologies, including the molecular tagging of abscission zone cells, that have proved to be the foundation for the successful submission of a further project to BBSRC. My work also broadened the focus of the programme of research by introducing a bioinformatics approach to identify other polygalacturonases genes that might make an important contribution to cell separation (see publication list for references).

During my last postdoctoral post I was able to map successfully the HAWAIIAN SKIRT gene - the mutant does not shed its floral parts because the sepal bases remain fused during development. The gene encodes an F-box protein. During the course of the project I also exploited the use of a transgenic line that I had generated expressing the reporter GFP specifically in abscission zone cells. Using this PGAZAT::GFP line I was able to identify and collect abscission zone cells separating in vivo, and I developed a methodology to generate the first single cell cDNA, yeast one-hybrid and yeast two-hybrid libraries from this material. I have used the cDNA library to produce the first complete transcript profile from abscission zone cells and this has revealed expression of genes whose site of transcription was previously undocumented.

Future Research

I intend to advance in our knowledge in the three areas I have been actively involved in the last 10 years: cell separation processes with an emphasis in the abscission process by following some of the genes identified in the cDNA library screening I generated in the past, the role of the F-box protein Hawaiian Skirt, and the characterization of the two ubiquitin like genes from Arabidopsis.

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